Oak Mesa Community Shows Its HART for a Great Principal

June 11, 2011
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If you were driving up Wheeler on Friday night and wondering what all the commotion was about, it was a love-fest on the lawn for Principal Karen Eberhart, who retired from Oak Mesa Elementary after admirably serving the school from 2001 to 2011.

Current and former students, past and present PTA presidents, and admiring parents whose children had the good fortune to attend Oak Mesa while Ms. Eberhart was principal, turned out to show their appreciation and shower their departing leader with gifts, including naming the school’s Discovery Center in her honor. Members of Ms. Eberhart’s family also flew in from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida to be with her during her crowning moment as an educator, which began 31 years ago after her graduation from Southwestern Louisiana University.

Speaker after speaker shared how Ms. Eberhart connected to others on a personal level, observing, listening and interacting with them across the Oak Mesa campus, from the classroom, to the cafeteria, to the playground. Rarely would you find her behind a desk until everybody had gone home for the day.

“The children always were her top priority,” said one PTA presenter.

“She was the best principal ever,” said Oak Mesa fifth grade teacher Chris Johnson. “Whenever you talked to her about a student, she knew that student and more. She led by example.”

During Ms. Eberhart’s tenure, Oak Mesa was named a California Distinguished School, ranking among the top 10 percent of schools statewide. She was also a driving force in introducing and fast-tracking technology into the school.

Ms. Eberhart, a technology whiz, said she will stay connected to the Oak Mesa community through email and other electronic links while she ponders the next phase of her outstanding career, which could include travel and teaching English as a second language in China.

As for the outpouring of affection she received on her last day, Ms. Eberhart, a former English and drama teacher who has a fondness for purple, was at a loss for words.

“I’m speechless, I’m so thankful they’ve touched my life in so many ways,” she said, holding a handsome quilt that had been presented to her. “I’m overwhelmed.”

That’s what happens when you give overwhelming command performances for 10 years running.

Click on the REEL People video to view some of the singing performances that the students gave as a final tribute to Ms. Eberhart.










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